The Walking Artists Network

The Walking Artists Network

The Walking Artists Network is for everyone who defines themselves as a walking artist, and everyone who is interested in walking as a mode of art practice. It extends to cover related creative and critical walking from fields including (but not limited to) architecture, archaeology, anthropology, cultural geography, history, spatial design, urban design, health and planning.

Clare Qualmann, London, United Kingdom

the Walking Artists Network connects people globally who share an interest in walking as a mode of art practice, primarily through a dedicated mailing list and website.

In late 2007 a small group of artists called a meeting inviting ‘all those who are interested in walking as a critical spatial practice’ to the inaugral meeting of the Walking Artists Network. Inspired in part by our emerging awareness of other walking artists, and their diverse trajectories to walking as an art practice from backgrounds including music/sonic arts, graphic design, sculpture, painting, theatre, film and dance, the aims of the meeting were:
*to connect with others who defined themselves as walking artists – or who were interested in the idea of walking as a mode of art practice;
*to share examples of our practices, and the practices that inspired us;
*to ask how we might define walking art as a medium, and whether attempting a definition would be a fruitful method for generating discussion and debate;
*to find a volunteer/volunteers to instigate, organise and host the next meeting.

Around 20 people attended the meeting in January 2008 (held at London Metropolitan University) chaired by Ben Roberts (Camden Arts Centre) and including presentations by walkwalkwalk, Melissa Bliss, Viv Corringham and Clive A Brandon (the founder members). Attendees included postgraduate students, artists, musicians, writers and urban planners. The meeting format was effective, and the discussion fruitful, however the goal of finding a volunteer to instigate the next meeting was not met.

In 2010 an AHRC research networks bid was begun to assist with the revival of the walking artists network, written by Clare Qualmann and Mark Hunter at the University of East London. It proposed to operate through an open call for participants from both academia and practice – with a distinct aim to draw together practitioners/researchers from the performing and visual arts.
Awarded funding in August 2011 the AHRC funding supported the development of the WAN website, along with a series of meetings. The first of these was an open event held alongside the Sideways festival of walking in Belgium in September 2012, the second and third were smaller and more focussed meetings of the research group attached to the project, entitled ‘Footwork’ they took place in 2013 in London, and at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales in 2014. In April 2015 a final meeting and public symposium were held in Cornwall with the title 'Where to? the Future of Walking Arts' at which 30 presentations were made selected from a call for interventions, propositions and/or manifestos that addressed three key strands of inquiry:
*The diversity of forms and growth of interest in walking art practices
*The regional particularities in walking (art)
*The politics of walking (art).

The physical meetings of the network have enabled networking across disciplines and internationally, with many diverse and fruitful connections being built amongst their participants.

As the research council funding draws to a close the network is in a good position to continue as a self-supporting network. It's jiscmail list (www.jiscmail.ac.uk/wan) boasts 492 members, with regular postings promoting walking arts projects, requesting help, advice, or information from the list, sharing calls for papers and opportunities for artists such as commissions and open submission exhibitions. The website includes a members directory listing 400 members from around the world, and a growing bibliography including a comprehensive listing of PhD theses and dissertations.

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